Impact of Racism and Oppression in Native Son

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Impact of racism and oppression in Richard Wright’s Native Son Yong Jae Lee
Period 2
10th May 2011

Racism has been a trait common in the human race for thousands of years to this day. Many have suffered because of it and many still do. From African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, and Homosexuals, racism has not just been directed upon on a certain group of individuals but to many shades of humanity. Some more infamous cases of racism have been committed against the Jewish people. In 1941 the nation of Germany lead by Adolf Hitler committed one of the most horrid acts of racism known to man. Adolf Hitler’s hatred towards the Jews was so great that as he took over more and more European countries he developed a plan known as the “Final Solution” in order to eliminate the Jewish race. His plan ultimately created what historians today call the Holocaust. During Hitler’s reign he first started the racism against the Jews by requiring them to wear the Star of David in order to identify who was a Jew and who was not. This act of labeling was bad enough but it would only grow worse. After humiliating and branding the Jews, Hitler then funneled the Jews living on his land into cramped ghetto quarters barred from the rest of the public. There they perished from disease and poverty with no hope in sight and as time progressed so did the vile ideas of Adolf Hitler. Not only did he put the Jews into ghettos, he also forced millions of them into death camps where they were forced to work until they could no more. In these camps the ones who were too weak to participate in work production were killed in specially built gas chambers and then cremated to destroy the evidence of their deaths. Hitler was so disgusted by the Jewish people that he even created the majority of the death camps in Poland, not in his ruling nation of Germany. In the end of the holocaust followed by the end of World War Two, Hitler had killed approximately six million Jews and left the continent of Europe in ruins. Hitler’s extermination of a race was built upon the his foundations of racism towards a particular group of people. Because the issue of racism has been so influential it has been discussed and written about frequently in our society. In the novel Native Son by Richard Wright, racism and oppression stand out as major influences in the novel that affects the daily lives of African Americans physically and emotionally.

In Native Son, racism affects African Americans physically on a daily basis. Richard Wright clearly describes this in the novel by designating where blacks and whites live in the urban area of Chicago. The physical separation is shown by describing a city where blacks only live in one area, known as the “Black Belt,” where rents are high and opportunities are slim. The spatial segregation displays to the reader that in whatever way, shape, or form, racism is still prevalent in a non slave society. This form of racism deals with the issue of racial of space, which is a very stark contrast from verbal or emotional racism for racial space has no gray area. Instead it is conceived by a thick dark line that clearly divides the racial factions. Bigger Thomas clearly demonstrates this view when he thinks to himself and says “He knew that black people could not go outside of the Black Belt to rent a flat; they had to live on their side of the “line”” (Wright, Richard 249). Another example of this is a quote that states “It goes without saying, morever that race/space is not infinite but bounded, marked off from other races/spaces both by material boundaries…” (Soto, Isabel 25). This divide of racial space in the novel is done onto blacks by whites. The white people, in Native Son, do this not only to express their racial disproval of blacks but also to take advantage of the black residents. Because the whites force the blacks to live in the black belt, land owning...
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